Picking up the cudgel for farmers protesting against genetically-modified (GM) rice, the Chhattisgarh government on Thursday destroyed a field on the outskirts of Raipur, where field trials of GM rice were in progress. It also questioned the Centre on “allowing the trials without informing the state government”.
State agriculture secretary Pankaj Diwedi told the Hindustan Times that the ministry of environment and forests was holding “casual” trials. “But they should have written to us informing that the state has been selected for GM trials,” Diwedi said. The company conducting the trials also did not take permission from the state government though “agriculture is on the concurrent list of the Constitution,” Diwedi alleged. An inquiry into the alleged violations will submit its report on Monday.
A government team led by agriculture minister Nankiram Kawar destroyed the field, owned by one Jagdishlal Arora. “It is very strange that a farm within the city limits was chosen instead of proper agriculture land,” Diwedi said. The government action was spurred by complaints from NGOs and green lobbies alleging violations of norms in planting GM rice. The regional agriculture scientists also had no knowledge of the trials. Kavita Karunganti of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture said the trials violated rules and nobody knows “whether safety precautions were adopted before planting the seeds”.
As the protest against GM rice rages through Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and even Tamil Nadu down south, Greenpeace India is pushing for an organically-grown rice combining traditional farming with cutting-edge technology.